How To Keep Your Home Safe From Fire During the Holidays

The holiday season brings feelings of love and family, giving, sharing and an overall general joy. But, all of those feelings can quickly be replaced with sadness, loss and destruction! Hundreds of fires start each holiday season from the sparkling holiday lights and the beautifully decorated Christmas trees.

The statistics are staggering, each year over 400 people die from fires during the holiday season. Over 1,600 people are injured by fire and over $990 million in damage is done to homes, businesses and other stuctures. There are some simple steps that you can take to help ensure that your holiday stays a happy and safe one!

A tree that is getting to dried out is one of the major causes of fires during the Christmas season. When you’re shopping for the perfect tree, keep these simple things in mind to make sure you’re getting a fresh tree. The needles should be real green and be hard to pull back if the tree is fresh. Pick the tree up off the ground and let it bounce, if a lot of needles fall off, keep looking for a different tree.

Make sure to make a fresh cut on the bottom of the trees trunk so that it can absorb as much water as possible. Erect your tree in a stand that is the correct size to hold the tree you choose. And, make sure to check the water in the reservoir daily. Even when the tree is kept with a good supply of water, most trees will dry out within two weeks.

If you want to use a real tree, don’t purchase it too early and don’t leave it up too long after the holidays. Place your tree in an area away from any heat source such as radiators, vents and fireplaces. Any type of heat that is close to the tree will cause it to dry out even faster.

If you’re using last years Christmas lights, make sure to check them over thoroughly. Look for any bare spots, frayed wires, a cracked or broken socket and also check for any severe kinks in the wire. A badly kinked wire could be broken on the inside of the insulation and you won’t even be able to see it.

Most Christmas lights sold today are approved by the UL testing laboratory. But, you may want to check just to make sure that your lights are. When using lights for outdoor decorating, make sure that they’re UL approved for outdoor use, never use indoor only lights outside. And, unless your lights are especially approved for connecting a lot of strands, don’t connect more than three strands of lights together.

Remember to check the lights wires now and then, they shouldn’t be warm or especially not hot. If the wire are heating up, unplug them and remove the lights and replace them immediately. And, never leave your Christmas lights plugged in when you’re gone.

When attaching Christmas lights to the eaves of your home or anywhere on the outside, you should never use nails or staples. Plastic clips are much safer to use around electricity. But, if you do use staples or nails to attach the lights, take extra care to not pierce the light wires.

If you have a fireplace, don’t burn gift wrap, gift boxes and other types of trash in the fireplace. The paper and cardboard can quickly create a large blaze that can get out of control.

Candles are great to use all year long, but they can really add to the wonderful holiday atmosphere. Never leave them burning unattended and discard candles when they’re down to about two inches tall. And, be really careful about where you place the candles. Don’t set them too near flammable materials.

How To Keep Your Wood Burning Fireplace Safe

If you have a wood burning fireplace, then you already know how important it is to keep them well maintained. After all, you’re literally setting a fire inside your home, a fire that can quickly get out of control if your fireplace isn’t properly cared for.

The most important step in fireplace safety is to never, ever leave a burning fireplace unattended. whether you are going to bed, just going outside or down to the corner grocery to make a pick quick up, make sure that you totally extinguish the fire before leaving the house.

You should always keep a fire extinguisher somewhere close to the fireplace and make sure it’s easy to get to quickly. And, you should always replace it if it’s expired. Although, a fire extinguisher can still work even after the expiration date, it’s much better to be safe than sorry.

A spark arrester screen can help keep sparks from flying out into the room and starting a fire. And, you should never overload the fireplace with logs. The higher you stack the logs, the less stable they become and can easily roll out of the fireplace into the room. All it takes is a small piece of wood to start an enormous fire.

Soft wood, pine or other items like bundles of newspaper should never be burned in a fireplace. And, never use any type of chemical to start the fire or to get it burning larger. Large fires increase the build of of creosote in the chimney which can catch fire quickly. And, fuels like gas or lighter fluids can cause a sudden burst of flames that can shoot out of the fireplace.

Any type of flammable liquids such as kerosene fuel, lamp oil and even alcoholic beverages should be kept within a safe distance of a fireplace. Even items like drapes, carpet and furniture should be at least four feet away from the fireplace to be safe.

It is highly recommended that you have your fireplace and chimney inspected on a yearly basis, especially if it’s several years old. And, you should also have it inspected if you’ve just purchased the home. Unless you have some way of knowing when it was last inspected, the former owners might not have had any inspections at all!

During an inspection, the fireplace should be checked for any cracks in the bricks or mortar. The flue should be carefully checked and there shouldn’t be any of the flue tiles cracked or missing. The flue should also be checked for clogs or to see if it’s covered in creosote. If there are any cracks in the chimney, you or a contractor can cover the inside with a special concrete that is light weight and can withstand high temperatures.

The height of your chimney must follow a code, regulations state that the chimney should be at least two feet higher than the highest part of your homes roof. The chimney should also be equipped with a spark arrestor cap, the cap will also keep birds, bats and other animals such as squirrels out of the chimney.

Your fireplace hearth should extend out into the room at least 16″ and it should extend past the firebox at least 8″ on each side. It needs to be at least three inches in thickness and be made out of a fireproof material such as brick or stone.

The best way to stay safe while using your fireplace is to just make sure that anything that can burn is kept away from the fire. Take extra pre-cautions when even standing in front of the fireplace in your warm winter robe or long nightgowns. And, never use it for an incinerator for trash!

Keeping Your Child Safe With a Home Swimming Pool

Having a home swimming pool is really great through the hot summer months. They can be a place for birthday parties, gatherings and other family events. But, they are also places that introduce a high risk of danger right into your own back yard especially if you have children, or there’s children in your neighborhood!

There are around 250 children that are under five years old drowned in swimming pools each year! A number that can be greatly reduced with some extra precautions taken to keep children away from the water when you’re not there to supervise.

Pool alarms are another way to increase the pools safety. The alarm sits at the side of the pool and alerts you whenever there are any waves on the pools surface! The monitor is installed inside the home, so that you’ll be able to hear it better.

You can also find wrist bands that have alarms built into them. These are simply worn by the child like a bracelet and will alert you whenever they get wet. They will lock into place so that the child won’t be able to just take it off.

Wrist band alarms are the perfect thing for when you need to run in the house for cold drinks and don’t want to make your child go with you. They’ll be able to play outside or sit by the pool safely and wait for you to return!

One of the best ways to protect not only your children, but any children that may live in your neighborhood is with a fence. All kids seem to love water and the neighbors kids may sneak over to play when no one is at home.

The fence should be at least four feet high and run all the way around the swimming pool. If the pool is off of a deck, you might choose to have a solid fence and enter the pool area from inside the home. But, if you want to have a gate entrance, make sure that you have a good sturdy lock attached to the gate.

You can even purchase gates that will automatically close and latch. This is a great way to make sure that no one forgets to shut the gate after entering or leaving the swimming pool area.

This type of gate will have a latch that should be installed near the top so that children can’t reach it. The gate should be kept in perfect working order at all times, if the gate fails to latch it’s not going to provide safety!

Self locking mechanisms can be purchased and easily added to any existing gate. It’s just a matter of attaching the brackets and the latch with screws. The latches can be placed on the outside or inside of the gate.

Installing a gate alarm can also warn you when the gate is opened. These battery operated alarms mount right to the gate. They come with sensors that need to be attached to the gate and the gate post. They are easily turned off with the push of a button to allow you to use the gate without the alarm going off.

Although you may not consider a mesh fence to be a strong means of protection, they are actually quite tough and strong. A mesh fence can be setup and taken down as needed.

These will only work for swimming pools that have decks. Holes are made in the deck that the aluminum fence posts fit into. The fence is setup in sections that are held together with bolt snaps.

Mesh fences are very convenient, they can be setup or taken down within minutes. Another feature of mesh is that children can’t climb it! And, their feet and hands can’t get caught in the fence!

If your pool is located at a deck connected to your home, make sure that you install an alarm on the door. Most alarms will go off after the door has been open for several seconds to warn you that someone has went out to the pool area.

These alarms can be turned on just when you’re not using the pool. The alarm should be placed higher than the child can reach so that they can’t accidentally turn it themselves.

Just remember that using any or all of these safety features still won’t guarantee that your pool is 100% safe. The best measure of safety is of course, supervision. But, these added extras will still make your swimming pool a lot safer place!

Install Lamp Posts at Your Driveway For Added Safety

Walking around in the dark is dangerous and it’s especially dangerous when the ground isn’t level. For added safety and peace of mind you can easily install lamp posts along your driveway or walkway.

Lamp posts will not only add security, they will add charm to your landscaping. They can be found from simple and plain styles to highly decorative and elaborate styles!

You should always check the instructions that come with the type of lighting that you purchase. But, most lights are installed in pretty much the same manner.

You really should have some experience with wiring before attempting any job that requires you to hook into the electric. If you’ve never done anything like this before you might want to get someone that has to help with this project.

The first thing that you will need to do is to decide exactly where you want the lights to be. You can use anything to mark the spots and if you’re adding one on each side of the driveway, make sure they’re lined up with each other.

Next you will need to dig a hole around 15″ to 18″ to give the post a sturdy foundation. You will also need to dig a trench from the house or nearest electrical supply to the post.

Set the post into the hole and pour quick setting cement all around it. Slowly add just enough water to soak the cement, usually it will take about a gallon of water for each bag of quick set that you use.

There should be a small hole towards the bottom of the post. This hole is for the electric wire to enter into the post, it should be pointed in the direction of the trench you dug for the wire.

You can use a stick, dowel or any other tool to mix the cement throughly. Then use a level to check and make sure that you get the post straight. Once the cement has set you won’t be able to straighten the post!

When the cement sets you’re ready to install the wiring. Make sure that you turn the electric off at the breaker box before working with any wires! You can tap into an electric wire from your garage or the closest place available.

If you’d like a switch so that you can turn the lights off and on, install one before running the wires to the posts. The inside of the garage is a great place for a switch, especially if you’re running your wire from there!

Run the wire from the house down through the trench and then feed it up into the post through the hole and out the top. Use a sharp utility knife to divide the wire. Then use the utility knife or wire strippers to remove about 1/2″ of the wire coating so that the wires are bare.

Follow the manufacturers instructions to connect the wire to the lamp fixture. Wire nuts can be used to hold the wires together, these are small, cone shaped pieces of plastic that have internal threads and screw onto the wires.

After you’ve gotten the wires connected, bolt or screw the lamp fixture into place on top of the post. Any extra wiring can be slid inside the post under the light fixture. Now you’re ready to add the light bulb and glass panes or lamp covering.

Driveway lights can help to make you and your family feel more secure by lighting the way to and from your car. They will also add a lot of beauty to your driveway and yard!

Fire Alarms Double Your Chance for Surviving a Fire!

Fire safety is one of the highest concerns of home safety! Having fire alarms installed in your home can be the difference between life and death if a fire breaks out. Fire alarms can double your chances for surviving a fire!

Installing a fire alarm is a simple job that you can do yourself. There are three main types of fire alarms, Optical, Ionisation and heat alarms.

An Ionisation alarm works by closely monitoring the quality of the air in your home. These alarms will detect particles that are so small they can’t be seen or even smelled.

They’re very prompt in alerting you to fires that are hot and fast burning. However, since they often detect even common particles such as dust, steam and even small insects they are prone to false alarms.

As the name implies, Optical alarms work by actually seeing the smoke. A small infra red beam is emitted onto a photocell and the alarm is set when smoke interrupts this beam.

Optical alarms are more efficient for fires that are slow burning and produce a lot of smoke. While this type of alarm is less prone to produce false alarms, there are occasions they still will go off without the presence of a fire.

Heat alarms come in two basic types, Rate of Rise and Fixed Temperature alarms. Heat alarms are less sensitive to particles of dust in the air and require little maintenance.

Rate of Rise alarms will measure changes in the room temperature and compare them against an absolute temperature. This type of fire alarm has a high rate of false alarms as they’re often set off by steam from a boiling cooker and heat from opening the oven door.

Most Fixed Temperature alarms will activate when the temperature reaches around 136* F. This type of alarm is the best for use in or near the kitchen, the alarm won’t be set off as easily by steam or heat from appliances!

The type of fire alarm you choose to use is pretty much a personal preference. But, it is highly recommended that you use a combination of the types for more adequate notifications!

Fires aren’t all the same, some can engulf a home in minutes while others smolder and take time to consume a structure. If you ever have a fire, there’s no way of knowing what kind of fire it will be. So, using a variety of fire alarms is important.

Interconnected alarms are becoming more and more popular. This is a system of different types of alarms that are all connected. When one goes off they will all go off!

Large homes can really benefit from an interconnected system. While a fire may be burning out of control on one end of a large home, you may not hear the alarm if you’re in the other end. This system will alert you no matter where the fire starts from!

Basic fire protection can be obtained from battery operated alarms. They are very easy to install since they require no wiring and maintenance is as easy as changing the batteries on a regular basis. But, smoke alarms that run off electricity and have a battery back up are recommended over a basic battery type.

For people who are hearing impaired, there are fire alarms that use strobe lighting as the alarm. These can also be used with regular fire alarms as an extra warning.

Installation and maintenance are the most important factors in properly working fire alarms. On the average of 12% of home fires the alarms failed to go off due to low or dead batteries.

The U.S. Fire Administration recommends that there are alarms installed on each floor of your home. There should be alarms in the bedrooms if there are electrical appliances such as televisions.

If you have a two story home and only one fire alarm, it should be placed close to the bedrooms. The best area is at the top of the stairs where it can easily be heard if you’re asleep.

Most smoke alarms are mounted onto bases that just screw into the ceiling. The best position for an alarm is the center of the room. However, they should never be installed near light fixtures that emit heat!

Basic smoke alarm maintenance should include a battery check on a weekly basis and a battery change at least once per year. You should also keep your alarm clean. Cobwebs and dust can be removed with a damp cloth or vacuum cleaner.

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